2nd degree (Master)
Dr Orly Lewis
Coordinator Office Hours:
Dr. Orly Lewis
This seminar will explore the beginning of Western medical and philosophical enquiries regarding body, soul and their treatment. We shall discuss the ideas put forward by Greek and Roman philosophers from the fifth century BCE through to the second century CE, ideas which formed the basis of medical practice and conceptions of body and soul throughout the middle ages, the early-modern period and deep into modern times.
With the aid of introductory talks and the analysis of translated excerpts from the writings of doctors such as “Hippocrates” and Galen, as well as philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics we shall discuss the answers offered by these writers and their contemporaries to questions such as: what is the human body made of? How does it come into being and develop? What are the respective roles of the male and female bodies in the process of reproduction? What is the soul? What are its roles in the human body and how does it perform them? Why do we breathe? By what means do we sense, perceive and remember the things we encounter? How do we move from one place to the other? What happens inside our body when we are physically or mentally ill? How can we treat such illnesses and who is responsible for their treatment? What are the physical and mental differences between men and women and what are the medical consequences of these differences?
The course is intended for students interested in the history of ideas, science and philosophy, as well as in gender studies.
No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.
-Understanding the questions raised by physicians and philosophers in antiquity concerning body, soul and the connection between them; understanding why they were interested in these particular questions and how they went about answering them.
-Becoming acquainted with medical theories and methods in antiquity and understanding the relation between medicine and philosophy in that period.
-Gaining knowledge of the sources used by physicians and natural philosophers in antiquity.
-Becoming acquainted with the main medical writings of the period.
Learning outcomes - On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
-Understand and explain key terms in ancient medicine;
-Describe ancient knowledge regarding the composition and structure of the body and the main concepts by means of which the ancients explained the natural activity of body and soul, as well as the causes for disruptions in this activity and the means of treating such disruptions;
-To read and analyse Greco-Roman sources which are concerned with body and soul;
-To pose research questions related to the history of ideas concerning body and soul and to suggest methods for answering these questions.
85% (no more than 3 absences)
Teaching arrangement and method of instruction:
Short introductory talks by the lecturer and discussions based on the reading of primary sources.
Reports: during the semester each student will be required to submit three short reports (1-2 pages) based on the reading material; the topics of the reports will be chosen by the students from among the topics discussed in the seminar. Further details will be given during the first meeting.
-The history of anatomical and physiological research in antiquity
-Overview of the sources and the methodological challenges they pose.
Greco-Roman ideas concerning:
-The elements and material composition of the body and its parts.
-Blood and air in vital process, perception, cognition and motion.
-The structure and functions of the brain.
-The structure and functions of the cardio-vascular system.
-The structure and functions of the nervous system.
-The composition and bodily roles of the soul.
-The means by which the soul executes its roles in the body.
-The ways in which life is created and the fetus develops.
-The functions of semen, menstrual blood and ‘female semen’ in reproduction.
-The role of soul in the development of the fetus and the parts of the body.
-Disease of the mind and soul.
-Gynaecology and women diseases.
A detailed reading list will be handed out during the first meeting. Reading assignments will mostly consist of primary sources (in translation) and relevant secondary literature will be recommended.
We shall read select passages from the following authors and treatises:
On the Sacred Disease
On the Heart
History of Animals
Generation of Animals
Parts of Animals
[Fragments of HEROPHILUS in:]
Von Staden, Heinrich. 1989. Herophilus: the art of medicine in early Alexandria : edition, translation, and essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[Fragments of the STOICS in:]
Long, A. A., and D. N. Sedley. 1987. The Hellenistic philosophers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
On the Use of Respiration
On the Doctrines of Plato and Hippocrates
The Faculties of the Soul Follow upon the Mixtures of the Body
Additional Reading Material:
Will be handed out at the beginning of the semester
End of year written/oral examination 0 %
Presentation 0 %
Participation in Tutorials 0 %
Project work 90 %
Assignments 0 %
Reports 10 %
Research project 0 %
Quizzes 0 %
Other 0 %